Within the UK it’s estimated that 6% of the UK population has diabetes. Whilst 6% may not sound like a large amount, that’s roughly 3.5 million people across England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Whether you have diabetes or not, chances are you know or will be around someone with diabetes at some point. Think of it like this:
At the next friendly gathering you attend, 1 in every 16 people at that party may be diabetic.
This can be a challenging and scary illness because you need to constantly check your blood sugar, receive insulin jabs, and you may also need to be mindful of the foods you are eating. Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, there’s no doubt that living with the condition does require lifestyle changes that people who don’t have diabetes may not be aware of – but should know.
Find out 10 things people with diabetes want you to know about their condition from a collection of diabetics who have shared their thoughts across the online community.
It is more than insulin shots
“Diabetes is like having a second job. Where you have to work 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. Without a break or pay. For the rest of your life.” – Diabetes UK blog
You don’t get it from “eating too much sugar”
“No, it’s not because I ate too much sugar as a kid, and yes, I can still eat that bit of cake. I can eat anything I want, and I can do pretty much what I want when I want to do it – my T1 doesn’t hold me back in any way. It’s a lot more than just taking a couple of insulin injections though – there’s a lot more to it.” – Connor McHarg
It can be overwhelming at times
“And that’s okay…but it’s important that the people closest to you know what to do during these times. ALWAYS surround yourself with good people – whether they have diabetes or not – who care and are there to help you to get back on to your feet when you feel like hibernating.” – Diabetes UK blog
We get excited over new diabetic “toys”
“A new blood sugar reader is called, “The Freestyle Libre” and works in my mind like a medical Oyster Card. You very easily, very speedily, and very painlessly insert a small sensor under your arm which pushes a little flexible filament into your skin and stays there for 14 days. You switch on the accompanying reader with one press of a button, swipe (or ‘flash) it under your arm and bingo, it takes a reading. In one second. No blood, no finger pricking, no waiting, no messing. I felt like I’d unlocked the Matrix.” – MissJenGrieves
Having an invisible illness is tough
“The psychological aspects of diabetes are very difficult to explain to people, again because they can’t see any physical symptoms so therefore there can’t be anything ‘wrong’…It can make you feel cheated and frustrated for the life you might have had. However, I can’t imagine life without diabetes now; it’s part of me, but it’s certainly not the whole picture.” – Mel Stephenson
I can still have fun and exercise
“I am a recreational triathlete and regularly do prolonged stints of exercise, and although it takes a little bit of careful planning and forethought, I am just as capable at exercise and body-stressing behaviours as someone without type 1 diabetes.” – Adam Gorrill
We can still travel – and we do
“There is a never ending list of ways diabetes complicates life, and issues in travelling are nothing new…but I’ve lived with type 1 diabetes for the past 18 years and I travel by plane for business or pleasure almost monthly.” – Allison Blass
Diabetics have rights when travelling
“I wish I had known that I had options when it came to travelling with diabetes. It’s perfectly acceptable for me to put my insulin pump in my purse when I go through security. It’s okay for me to wear it as I pass through the metal detector. I can opt out of conventional screening and ask for a pat down. I can also decide to buck the whole system and go back to injections while I travel. The choice is MINE. And it took me a long time to realize my rights as a traveling PWD.”- Sixuntilme
Fear of flying can trigger anxiety and blood sugar
“My blood sugar would respond to my flight anxiety, and I needed to find ways to manage that anxiety in a healthy way. I should have brought yarn on the plane with me years ago. It does wonders for my mindset and now I have better blood sugars and a collection of wonky scarves to give away to flight attendants at the close of my flight.” – Sixuntilme
Diabetes doesn’t have to hold you back
“Remember that everything is still achievable. Diabetes should never hold you back in life and if anything it’ll actually make you a better and stronger person in the long run – trust me, I’m a diabetic!” –Diabetes UK blog
Do you agree with these? Let us know if you have any things you wish people knew about diabetes in the comments below.